The re-emerging Bennigan’s restaurant chain plans to open five locations in the Austin area as it jump-starts the brand in Texas.
Richardson, Texas-based Bennigan’s Franchise Co. seeks to open as many as 10 restaurants each in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas, as well as five each in Austin and San Antonio. Locations in smaller Texas markets are in the works, too.
Bennigan’s has enlisted Daniel Harris, senior vice president of the retail division at the Henry S. Miller real estate brokerage firm, to hunt for 4,000- to 6,000-square-foot spaces for new restaurants across Texas.
In all, Bennigan’s has 80 locations worldwide, including more than 30 in the United States. At its height, Bennigan’s had more than 270 restaurants, both corporate-owned and franchised. Today, Bennigan’s has only four locations in Texas, but none in the Austin area.
Three years ago, Bennigan’s parent company, S&A Restaurant Corp., filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation and all of the corporate-owned Bennigan’s were closed. Meanwhile, franchised Bennigan’s restaurants stayed open. The brand, under the Bennigan’s Franchise Co. umbrella, later was purchased by New York investment firm Atalaya Capital Management LP.
In 2008, two corporate-owned Bennigan’s locations in Austin closed. Two other locations in Austin, one location in Round Rock and one location in San Marcos – all franchised – remained open after the bankruptcy but later shut down.
The Bennigan’s chain describes itself as “a neighborhood pub for the 21st century,” with American fare and “Irish hospitality.”
In November 2010, Bennigan’s opened a prototype restaurant in Appleton, Wis. – the first company-owned location since the bankruptcy. In striving to regain its former glory, Bennigan’s has revamped the design, menu and branding of its restaurants.
Restaurant, franchising and retail veteran Paul Mangiamele joined Bennigan’s Franchising Co. as president and CEO in May 2011. Among his previous positions is chief operating officer of Georgetown-based Sport Clips Inc., a chain of hair-cutting shops for men and boys.
When Mangiamele was announced as the new president and CEO, he said: “We’re embracing the past yet unlocking the value, vibe and energy that originally made Bennigan’s among the best brands in the casual theme space. … We’re firing up growth and are absolutely committed to returning this iconic brand to its rightful place at the top of casual dining.”